Writing a Quest Story: 11 Exciting Writing Prompts

Write an epic tale with one of these 11 ideas for a writing a quest story.

In fiction writing, writers typically choose between one of the seven basic plots outlined by Christopher Booker to craft their story. While a short story or book can have many subplots under the main plot, the plot typically begins with one of the seven basic ideas. A quest story is one of these.

A quest story takes the main character away from home and sends them on a journey searching for something. This type of story usually has a group of main characters that take on the quest together. This is usually centered around a hero but will also include at least one best friend, a sidekick, and sometimes a group of characters who will help but may not be named.

In a quest story, the main idea is the journey itself and what the characters learn on that journey. They will face several perils along the way, which keep the reader engaged with the tale. These perils also make it harder for the characters to complete the quest and can add to the character development along the way.

Quests can be fun stories to write. You can use quite a bit of creativity to build the world your character goes through on their quest. Here are some ideas for a quest story to get you started.

1. The Main Character Crash-Lands in a Mythical, Magic Land, and Must Find a Way Home

This quest story idea is the storyline of stories like the Wizard of Oz and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. You can create your own story in this format. The key is to create a magical world full of interest and intrigue for your readers.

The quest in this tale is usually to find a way home. Along the way, your main character will meet other characters who are important to helping them reach their quest. These characters often become best friends, which leads to challenges at the end of the story when they have to say goodbye.

2. The Search for a Magical Item

Writing a quest story
To write this type of quest story, first, you must think of the magical item or a problem for the characters to face

Another type of quest story is a story that sends the main character in search of a magical item. For example, stories about characters who went off searching for the Holy Grail fit this story arc. Often the magical item is the key to fixing a problem the character or the world the character lives in is facing.

To write this type of quest story, first, you must think of the magical item or a problem for the characters to face. Then, decide how and when the item will play a role in that problem in the world. Finally, decide what perils the characters will face along the way as they strive to find the item.

This quest is at the heart of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. The powerful demigods must search for various magical items to save their friends and family while fighting magical monsters in these books.

3. The Call to Save the City

Another type of quest story is a call to save society or the city. This typically happens when some dire threat is bearing down on the community, and only the main character and their friends can find the solution. The threat can be anything from a big bad guy to a weather anomaly, and it is often the threat that builds the suspense and plot of the story.

To fulfill the quest narrative, the hero must go on a journey to save the community, and that journey must have some peril in it. Through the hero’s journey, they learn important lessons while also seeking to restore their community and protect it from the coming threat.

The City of Ember takes an interesting twist on this quest story idea. Its heroes must save the city by getting the city members to evacuate before disaster overtakes the underground community. 

4. A Hero Stumbles Upon a Quest

Sometimes, the best way to write a quest story is to make it a surprise to the main character. When the character doesn’t go out in search of a quest, but rather stumbles onto a problem or something magical that sends them onto a quest.

The surprise of this particular quest story is what makes it so engaging. Your character is going about their daily life and then suddenly is hit with a heroic quest they never saw coming. Build the surprise to a climax in the story for more impact.

5. The Hero Must Save a Loved One from Certain Death

Another story arc that can turn into a quest story is having your main character find themselves in a quest to save a loved one from certain death. Perhaps the loved one is ill, or maybe they have fallen under a curse or been captured by an evil villain. The Mario Brothers video game series takes this path as the brothers try to save Princess Peach.

To be a believable quest story, it must have a serious problem to warrant a quest. In most of these stories, the loved one faces potential death due to the problem.

6. A World Building Quest

Sometimes world building can turn into a quest story. If the main characters must develop a new world somehow, then it can involve the elements of a quest. Science fiction stories often follow this path as there is a new, undeveloped world to explore.

To fit the quest genre, the world-building story must contain some problems that the main characters must solve or some journey they must take. The result is the building of a new world.

7. Defeating a Big Bad Guy

Many quests involve defeating a big bad guy in some way. In Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings books, the hobbits and their friends must defeat Sauron and his forces. In the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Harry and his friends are working to defeat Lord Voldemort. This sends the characters of both stories on an epic quest and in search of magical items, but the main goal is to defeat the big bad guy.

Many quest stories will incorporate this storyline with other types of quests, like the quest to save a loved one or save the community. Still, you can make your primary goal to defeat a villain as you get your creative writing juices flowing and write your quest story.

8. Breaking a Curse

Breaking a Curse
This story will start with the curse because the curse lays the foundation for the quest and the rest of the story

Similarly, you can build a quest narrative around the need to break a curse. This is the common storyline of fairy tales, and the hero must enter the journey in search of the elements that will break the curse and set them free. True love’s kiss can often be the way to break the curse, but you can choose something that fits your narrative as you write your story.

This story will start with the curse because the curse lays the foundation for the quest and the rest of the story. If you go too far into the story without introducing the curse, you will confuse your reader and not set the foundation for the quest journey. Once you’ve established the curse, you can send your hero on their quest to break it and end the tragedy.

9. Finding True Love

In the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, the beast’s only hope for breaking his curse is to find true love, which is something that feels impossible at the beginning of the tale. Finding true love is a good quest you can add to your story if it fits your narrative.

Keep in mind that the story must take the hero on a journey for it to be a quest. The reward at the end of the quest is the discovery of love. The quest to find true love can often get mixed with other types of quests to make an engaging story.

10. A Hero’s Journey Home

A final idea for a quest story is tracking a hero’s journey home after a major event. Along the way, your hero will need to face several challenges that help develop his character. There may not be an end goal, except the return home, for this quest.

Homer’s Odyssey is a good example of this type of quest. Homer follows King Ithaca on a ten-year journey home after a war in this poem. His perils made for an engaging tale, even though the quest’s purpose is unclear.

11. A Mysterious Message Sparks a Daring Quest

In this twist on the quest story, the hero may not know why he is going on the quest. He receives a message that sparks the quest, and he goes on the journey, but the reason why gets revealed along the way.

You can weave some of the other quest ideas into this basic plan, but the item that starts the quest is a mystery message. Eventually, you will reveal to the reader why the hero must go on the quest, but leaving the mystery in place for a while makes the story more interesting and engaging.

The Da Vinci Code takes on this pattern. In the tale, the hero finds a series of hidden messages from Da Vinci that lead to potential treasure and fame.

Learning how to tell stories isn’t always easy. If you’re looking for a course, check out our review of Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass.

For more advice, learn how to create suspense.

  • Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.